A submerged court and subsequent change of venue proved to be insignificant to the Emerson men's basketball team, who defeated the Emmanuel College Saints, 84-76, on Saturday. Freshman center Brian Rouse had 28 points and no personal fouls, senior guard Alfredo Tovar scored 16, and freshman guard Jeremy Shannon and junior guard Will Dawkins each put up 11 points in the victory.
Due to facilities problems and water damage to the Piano Row Gymnasium, the game had to be moved to Emmanuel only hours before it was scheduled to begin. Despite the location change, legions of Emerson fans came out to support their Lions.
"I don't really feel that the short-notice change of the game really affected how the team came out and played the game, because we were prepared for them to begin with," Rouse said. "If anything, it was good to get a road game in so we get to play them on a later date at home."
The Lions got off to a slow start, however, and quickly fell into a 4-0 hole. Almost three minutes into the half, Rouse scored Emerson's first basket. Junior forward Ben Chase answered a three-pointer by Emmanuel with a lay-up, bringing the score to 7-4.
Three consecutive turnovers didn't help the faltering Lions, and with 14 minutes left in the half, Emerson trailed 16-4. The Lions called a timeout and brought in Shannon for Chase. Following the timeout, Tovar sank a three-pointer to re-energize the Lions and bringing the score to 16-7.
Rouse grabbed his own rebound on a missed lay-up and hit a jump shot after being fouled by sophomore forward Mack Spellman of the Saint. He made the free throw and scored again after an Emmanuel turnover. The Lions had scored eight straight points and only trailed by four.
Fans on both sides began to heckle the referees for making questionable calls, including when the referees ruled that a foul by the Saints on Rouse came before he was in the shooting motion.
"Not a shooting foul?" one fan screamed throughout the next possession.
More questionable calls would plague the first half. With just under seven minutes to play, Shannon was called for traveling, and more fans complained. Coach Hank Smith also questioned the call, but to no avail; possession went to the Saints.
With little more than six minutes left in the half, the momentum shifted toward the Lions. Emerson took a 25-24 lead on a jumper by Chase, followed less than 30 seconds later by a jumper by Dawkins and a lay-up by Tovar. Chase made a free-throw shot after being fouled, bringing the score to 30-24 in favor of the Lions.
Play began after halftime with Emerson ahead, 38-34. After two successful baskets in the first two minutes, the Saints tied the score. The Lions quickly created distance between themselves and the Saints, bringing the score to 59-55 with 10 minutes left to play.
Less than a minute later, the Emmanuel bench was assessed a technical foul for arguing a call. Dawkins made both free throws, shifting momentum once again to the Lions. Emerson had an eight-point lead.
The final minutes of the game were played slowly, with more than 10 fouls called against players in five minutes. Fans screamed "Rouse's house!" and "He's so danger-Rouse!" as Rouse sank two free-throws to bring the score to 84-75. Rouse exited the game with 19 seconds left after playing 38 minutes, and Emmanuel scored the final basket of the game with seven seconds left, tallying a final score of 84-76.
Rouse finished with 13 rebounds and shot 100 percent from the free-throw line, Chase had two blocks, and Dawkins had five steals and six assists.
"The team is doing great in general; we are getting better and better every day and we are continuing to work towards our goal of winning the GNAC," Rouse said about the season so far. "We are looking forward to preparing for the GNAC championship and earning a trip to the NCAAs for the first time in school history."